A Missouri couple has been charged for an alleged widespread pattern of abuse at their now-defunct boarding school. Boyd and Stephanie Householder have been arrested, said Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt (R) on Wednesday.
“Today, my Office has filed a total of 102 criminal charges against Boyd and Stephanie Householder, proprietors of the now-defunct Circle of Hope Girls Ranch and Boarding School,” he said. “The charging documents allege extensive, and horrific, sexual, physical, and mental abuse perpetrated by the Householders. My Office has worked tirelessly to investigate this case and will continue to work around the clock to ensure that justice is obtained in this case.”
The Householders used to run the Circle of Hope Girls Ranch and Boarding School, but it was closed after girls were removed from the premises in August 2020.
Boyd Householder faces the lion’s share of the charges: 79 felony counts and one misdemeanor, including statutory rape, statutory sodomy, and neglect of a child. A chunk of those charges relate to a girl who said he sexually abused her. The girl is described as having been under the age of 17.
She is the only alleged survivor of sexual assault, but the male defendant allegedly engaged in an array of lurid abuse, including pushing his knee on the backs of several victims, putting pressure on pressure points, handcuffing or restraining his alleged victims, forcing the alleged victims to hold push-up positions, slamming them against walls, striking them with his hands or belt, shoving a victim’s face in horse manure, and pouring hot sauce down a victim’s throat. He allegedly also told some victims how best to slit their wrists if they wished to commit suicide. In another count, Boyd Householder allegedly forced a girl to drink at least 220 ounces of water, run a mile until she vomited, then run again.
Stephanie Householder faces a total of 22 felony charges: 12 counts of abuse or neglect of a child and 10 counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
It is unclear if either defendant has a criminal attorney in this matter. Allegations of abuse surfaced for quite some time, and the defendants previously denied the claims. They asserted the accusations were vindictive lies from their daughter, who was described by the couple in a September 2020 interview with the Kansas City Star as “estranged, troubled” and as an alumni of their school.
“They’re angry and they’re bitter, and they want to blame somebody,” said Stephanie Householder. “They feel like they’re victims, and they just want to take their anger out on somebody.”
“The girls that are making these comments and stuff, they’ve gone nowhere in life,” Boyd Householder said. “The girls that are praising us have gone to college, have a career in the military, have a career in office buildings as secretaries and so forth. The ones that are saying this stuff are the ones that have not succeeded.”
Daughter Amanda Householder told the outlet her parents kicked her out of their home when she was 17. She expressed mixed feelings about the criminal charges in a video posted Wednesday.
“I’m okay,” she said. “Yes, I’m overwhelmed, but I don’t want that to stop people from celebrating. This is a moment that does deserve to be celebrated. I am sad because they are my parents, but something my parents would always tell me is, ‘You’ve made your bed. Now you have to lie in it.’ Well, my parents made their bed and now they’re going to have to lie in it. And as hard as that is for me, it’s about time. They did what they did, and I’m just glad that they’re being held accountable for it, something I never, never thought was going to happen.”
[Screengrab via CBS News]
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